Famous Suicides That May Have Been Murders

The deaths of these 14 famous people were ruled suicides, but many out there (with reasons for thinking so) believe that they were actually murdered.

#1 Marilyn Monroe


The official story of Marilyn Monroe is that the sex symbol deliberately overdosed on sleeping pills. Her body was discovered hours after her death by a friend and a psychiatrist, but witnesses say that not only was her body taken to a nearby hospital before it was returned to be “discovered,” but several items, including a diary, were taken from Marilyn’s room. Perhaps the most damning evidence pointing to Marilyn’s murder is a statement from Joe DiMaggio’s niece that her mother was on the phone with Marilyn when Marilyn’s killer burst into the room. According to June DiMaggio, Marilyn cried out the killer’s name, but June’s mother was afraid to tell anyone else what she heard.

#2 Vincent van Gogh

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For a century, it was commonly believed that Vincent van Gogh, the tormented genius famous for chopping off his own ear, had committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest. After van Gogh shot himself, he sought treatment from several physicians, all of whom were not able to remove the bullet lodged near his spine. A little over a day later, van Gogh died of an infection. (There are several problems with this story, including the missing gun.) In a 2010 book, art historians Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith proposed that van Gogh was actually the victim of two neighbor boys who enjoyed tormenting the artist and who were probably just trying to scare him with the sound of gunshots.

#3 Ruslana Korshunova

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Ruslana Korshunova, aka the Russian Rapunzel, lead a fairytale existence until her untimely death at the age of 20. Korshunova was a wealthy international star but apparently jumped to her death from the balcony of her ninth-floor apartment. Many of Korshunova’s friends say that the model seemed happy and was looking forward to her upcoming birthday. Two murderous theories persist, however. In one, Korshunova’s “murder” had something to do with the fact that her famous hair was not only surprisingly short but, according to the coroner, also jagged, as if her killer chopped the hair off in a hurry.

#4 Kurt Cobain

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Kurt Cobain had an admitted drug addiction, was diagnosed with clinical depression, and even left a hand-written note in a flower near where his body was found. But several people, including professional investigators and Cobain intimates, think murder was the cause of the Nirvana singer’s death. Three handwriting experts called the sample from the “suicide note” inconclusive. Three medical examiners said he had so much heroin in his system that he couldn’t have fired the gun that killed him. One documentary explored the possibility that a contract killer had been hired, but the confessed shooter died soon after bragging to the cameras.

#5 George Reeves

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Just days before his wedding, television’s original Man of Steel was found dead in his bedroom from a single shot to the temple. Though ruled a suicide and blamed on Reeves’ professional malaise after Superman went off the air, many Hollywood historians and loyal fans think it unlikely that Reeves killed himself. There were no finger prints on the gun but there were powder burns on Reeves’ temple, indicating that the gun was held several inches from his head. Also, there were mysterious bruises on Reeves that could have come from a struggle. No charges were ever filed.

#6 Deborah Jeane Palfrey

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Known as the D.C. Madam, Deborah Jeane Palfrey provided beautiful and educated escorts for Washington’s rich and powerful. The question remains — just how powerful were the men on her client list? In 2007, Palfrey was under investigation for money laundering and prostitution charges. She told Alex Jones that she was “planning on going into court and defending [herself] vigorously and exposing the government.” She released boxes of professional phone records to several major media outlets, but ABC News didn’t find any of the clients “newsworthy” enough to report. According to Prison Planet, Palfrey’s lawyer, on the other hand, alleged that many powerful clients, including Vice President Dick Cheney, were on the list. Palfrey’s death by hanging was ruled a suicide.

#7 Danny Casolaro

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Casolaro was a writer with a fear of blood and a trunk full of secrets. In 1991, he was found dead in the bathtub of a Sheraton Hotel in Martinsburg, West Virginia, his wrists slashed over a dozen times. His death was ruled a suicide, but his family thinks that he was murdered as part of an international government cover-up. Casolaro was apparently in Martinsburg to meet a contact known as “Octopus”. The meeting was supposed to shed light on an international conspiracy that tied the Iranians and Ronald Reagan, stolen software and a banking scandal. The full details that Casolaro was trying to uncover were so Byzantium that they still haven’t all come to light.

Hunter S. Thompson

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“They’re gonna make it look like suicide,” journalism icon Hunter S. Thompson said just days before his death. “I know how these bastards think.” HST committed suicide in 2005, apparently because he was in poor health. One story has him shooting himself while still on the phone with his wife — but she said she never heard the shot. The other has him shooting himself in a chair in his study — his son, who was home at the time, thought he heard the sound of a book dropping but no shot. The famous writer left a terse suicide note that was dated four days before his death. Prior to his death, HST was working on an exposé of the destruction of the World Trade Center. He told a friend that the story would put his own life in danger.

#9 Mindy McCready

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This country music star had had her ups and downs before she purportedly took her life in February of 2013. She had recorded five albums but struggled with drug addiction, according to People magazine. In January 2013, her former boyfriend and father of one of her children committed suicide on his front porch, the same location where McCready was found one month later. Both bodies were found on the exact same spot. McCready apparently shot the family dog before she shot herself, which led private investigator Paul Huebl to claim that McCready and her boyfriend were killed over an unpaid debt.

#10 Margie Schoedinger

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The story of the woman who filed a rape lawsuit against President George W. Bush and ended up dead nine months later starts out strange and only gets stranger. In 2002, she filed suit in Fort Bend County, TX, claiming that Bush and several FBI agents kidnapped and sexually assaulted her and her husband. She filed these charges with the Sugarland County police force, but later filed charges against the police for harassment and assault. Then, nine months after the initial charges were filed, Schoedinger was found dead, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. None of this made national news. Was Schoedinger a liar or the victim of a massive conspiracy? We may never know.

#11 Elliott Smith

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In October of 2003, singer-songwriter Elliot Smith was arguing with his girlfriend, Jennifer Chiba, after which Chiba went to take a shower. Moments later, she heard screams and rushed to find Smith with a knife sticking out of his chest. Originally, his death was declared a suicide because of a note scribbled on a Post-It: “I’m so sorry — love, Elliott. God forgive me.” In the end, although the official autopsy report said homicide was a possibility and there are very few cases of suicide-by-stabbing, no one was ever charged.

#12 Li Wangyang

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Li Wangyang’s involvement in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest landed him in jail for thirteen years. He claimed that, during his incarceration, he did hard labor and was often beaten. In June 2012, Wangyang was in a hospital being treated for heart disease and diabetes when he was found hung from a window bar with a strip of white cloth. The government said that it was a suicide, but Wangyang’s family said that he was too weak to hold a bowl, much less hang himself. They suspect that Li was “suicided” because he continued to publicly rail against the continued mistreatment of the Tiananmen Square protestors.

#13 Riad Hamad

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When Riad Hamad was found dead in the water in Texas, his face was covered with duct tape and his hands were bound in front of him. But the police report said that he could have bound himself, and he was found to have committed suicide. However, the cops didn’t speculate as to how Hamad suffered bodily contusions, which led some conspiracy theorists to suspect that Hamad, who worked to ensure the welfare of Palestinians living in the occupied territories, was the victim of an assassination. (Before his death, his home had been raided by the FBI and the IRS in advance of these agencies building a case against him for money laundering and wire fraud. While no charges were officially filed, these raids were enough to make Hamad’s widow believe his suicide was actually a political murder.)

#14 Lt. Col. Marshall A. Gutierrez

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During the Iraq War, Lt. Col. Marshall A. Gutierrez was in charge of food procurement for the U.S. Army. He noticed that the military was paying exorbitantly: $8 for a pound of green beans and a 900% mark-up on soda, according to his complaints, which were leaked to the press. Shortly after he uncovered the fraud, Gutierrez was charged with bribery, mishandling secret information, bigamy, accepting illegal gifts and illegal possession of weapons, and alcohol and pornography possession. He was locked in an 8×8-foot cell and facing a court marshal when he killed himself by ingesting anti-freeze. Since Gutierrez maintained that he had been set up when he was still alive, there are many who believe his “suicide” was also a set-up.